Meet Shinzi Katoh, and Comment to Win A Free Limited Edition Item!

Most artists would blanch at the thought of their work being treated the way Shinzi Katoh‘s is. The Japanese artist’s work is often covered in food or ink or grime, and is in constant danger of getting scuffed, dropped, or marked. None of this worries Katoh, though. As one of the world’s leading zakka designers, he’s really quite used to it.

What is zakka? Translated as “many things” in Japanese, zakka refers to cleverly designed household items that jazz up your home, life, and outlook. Zakka products often take style cues from Scandinavian design and handicrafts. Not just any cute object qualifies as zakka, though; items in this genre must be thoughtful, artistic, and add to the user’s means of self-expression. “Zakka is the art of seeing the savvy in the ordinary and mundane,” reads a New York Times article about this Asian design trend.

In Japan, Katoh is a household name. His whimsical characters, from the cat-loving Chéri to the eco-friendly Solar Bear, are familiar faces in Japan, and Katoh has already illustrated 22 children’s books, and two for adults. His Kasugai city studio, gallery, atelier shop, and museum are tourist destinations, and Katoh is also well-known for his portraits and landscape paintings.

As if that isn’t enough, Katoh is gaining a strong following abroad, with Facebook and Flickr fan groups, and showings at Paris’ Maison & Objet and the New York International Gift Fair. This prolific artist is currently working on more than 200 jewelry designs for necklaces, rings, and bracelets, painting pieces for his art gallery, and working with Western retailers such as ModCloth to continue introducing his work to new audiences.

The reason behind Katoh’s superstar status may be because his intentions have always been simple and humble: he wants his designs to make his customers happy. Zakka belongs in our daily lives, and gives us happiness and encouragement. I always think of something funny when I am designing and drawing pictures,” he says, in hopes that his joy will inspire the same feeling in his customers.


How do YOU represent or create zakka in your own life? Post a response to that question in the comments, and you could win one of 10 Shinzi Katoh mini towels not sold on the site! Entries will be accepted until 12 p.m. EST on March 29. For full contest rules, check out our Contest and Comments Guidelines.

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  1. S 03/26/2010 at 11:23 am #

    Oh, I am one of his biggest fans!! I love his designs.

    I have various ways of incorporating zakka in my life. My mug collection reflects that well. All my plates and silverware are pretty ordinary, but my various quirky mugs reflect my personality, and add a little whimsy, humor and color to the dark office I work in every day.

  2. Lindsey K 03/26/2010 at 11:30 am #

    zakka IS my life. I tend to try out a whole bunch of different things from design, art, crafts, music, cooking…..TRY being the key here. I guess I’m bored sticking to one thing….I need many!!

  3. Suze 03/26/2010 at 11:32 am #

    So cool!
    I tend to own quirky desk items. A stabby guy letter holder of a red stapler a la Milton.

  4. Cher 03/26/2010 at 11:36 am #

    I don’t really have anything zakka, but I would love to!

  5. mia 03/26/2010 at 11:40 am #

    I draw whimsical designs on my nalgene water bottles in sharpie. The best/worst part is that when the designs start to wear off, all i have to do is use some ethanol to finish the job and I have a clean canvas.

  6. Karen | imisutoo 03/26/2010 at 11:43 am #

    This is a great giveaway! I’ve been a fan of Shinzi Katoh for awhile now and the first thing I got from his designs were bento boxes. Since then, I have accumulated two more sets and two water bottles. It’s nice to see my everyday food and drink items being dressed up in his illustrative design work. So this is definitely one way I create ‘zakka’ in my own life and I love it :]

    Thanks again for the chance! Love you modcloth!

  7. Marisa 03/26/2010 at 11:44 am #

    I definitely think zakka is a major part of my life! From things I buy for myself or gifts I buy for friends, I always try to find something that’s artistic, thoughtful, and is just a facet of their personality. It’s great to have a name to my gift giving strategy!

  8. Maggie 03/26/2010 at 11:48 am #

    I create Zakka by playing games in the car during my commute. I like to play guessing games or alphabet games. Anything to make it fun!

  9. rhea 03/26/2010 at 11:55 am #

    I create on my website and I try to incorporate it when I’m baking and in everything I do… like doodling on my notes at school!

  10. nicola 03/26/2010 at 11:57 am #

    i once used peas as fringe for a tablecloth. this might be hard to describe, but i threaded frozen peas onto 12″ strands, let them dry out and then sewed them around the perimeter of a burlap tablecloth. i gave this to my mother who used it for special dinners. the peas dangled over the edge of the table nicely.

  11. kristar 03/26/2010 at 12:04 pm #

    i created “zakka” in my life by spicing up my used to be ordinary room into a funkier setup! my walls were already completely painted lime green (my favorite color) but, then i had my friends paint on the walls with designs of cartoons and trees and stuff. also, i covered my sliding door closet with photographs from magazines. and then put up my own paintings and some Rock & Roll posters on my walls. and then i added a huge British flag above my lights! i even added my own bookshelf.
    my mom was really mad when she saw what i had done because she already had the room set up for me in the traditional mundane way she wanted it to be…but, i just had to manipulate it, it was killing me! sorry mama.

  12. gizmogal 03/26/2010 at 12:11 pm #

    Shinzi Katoh!? Wonderful that you profiled him here… I have loved his work for years 😀
    His art is so beautiful and accessible, too.

    I make my own zakka by making little useful objects out of old things: I collaged a tin of chocolates into a case for extra art knife blades and erasers!

  13. cle cle 03/26/2010 at 12:29 pm #

    Since I work in a grocery store, I have to wear a uniform that allows very little room for individuality and expressing my love of wearing all sorts of things that represent me. However, I can still get away with wearing small earrings! I collect as many small earrings in all shapes and types (I have pineapples, to birds, to hula dancers!). It’s all about using the small things to really make an impact I think. 🙂

  14. Victoria 03/26/2010 at 12:37 pm #

    My house could certainly use some jazz. I have hardly anything on them at all (that’s what happens when you sell all you have when you get pregnant with your first child hoping to provide for him, and then after the second child start to slowly decorate again. . which I still am not on) haha. I lack in the towel department which this could help with.

  15. Zoe 03/26/2010 at 1:04 pm #

    Great post! Right now I live with my parents, so there’s not a lot of opportunity for zakka, but I’m bursting with plans for once I move out on my own. My zakka talisman right now–sitting in a box in the garage, waiting for the right time–is a ceiling lamp, almost a chandelier, made of iridescent Mardi Gras beads.

  16. Emily 03/26/2010 at 1:07 pm #

    My zakka is still keeping a few quirky things in my place to keep things positive and less ordinary like my gumball machine, my Astroboy lunchbag and my cartoon dish cloths. I also have a vinyl quote on my wall that says, “Life is not a dress rehearsal”.

  17. c_tyler 03/26/2010 at 1:42 pm #

    I’m so glad you all have introduced me to Shinzi Katoh! I’ll be scoring the internet to learn more since apparently I’m behind the masses.
    I also love the idea of zakka and would say mine can be found on the wall of my apartment. I’m a designer and artist, but didn’t want to have only my works or “grown up” pictures on my walls. Instead I’ve featured limited edition rock posters from my favorite bands, a great punch of unexpected in the middle of my modern furniture. Rock n roll, zakka, rock n roll.

  18. Angela (ModCloth) 03/26/2010 at 1:54 pm #

    Katoh’s art has really grown on me since I’ve been seeing it on the site. I really love the kindness and friendliness in the images he creates. I especially love Solar Bear!

  19. jill 03/26/2010 at 2:04 pm #

    we have a room in our apartment that is completely hardwood — the walls, ceiling, and floor are all knotty pine, which gives it the look of a log cabin. at first i was like, “zomg, how are we going to decorate this?” and then it came to me: woodlands theme. we have a large owl print on the wall, a few bear and squirrel chachkes, and i buy pretty much everything i can find with a deer on it. (great tip: buy a bunch of “reindeer” items on the cheap just after christmas. when you take of the red and green tinsel, ta-da! regular, year-round deer.

  20. kasey 03/26/2010 at 2:07 pm #

    Oooh, I love Shinzi Katoh! I try to create zakka in my life by finding thoughtful ways of expressing myself. It might be something small, like decorating a notebook to the way I wrap gifts for people. I think it’s about finding a way to add something special into everyday that you can look at and smile. 🙂

  21. Bridget Hennicke 03/26/2010 at 2:09 pm #

    this is so cool! I love things with deers on it, they make me feel fashionable and aware of the environment. I live in Jersey, so deer are common accessories of nature. It is also cool about the jazz, I know my house could use some!

  22. Eunice 03/26/2010 at 2:21 pm #

    I love the Shinzi Katoh items that you guys carry! I create zakka in my life by making my own greeting cards and giving them to friends on special occasions. They’re not much, but they allow me to be creative and give them something other than a cookie-cutter card.

  23. Emily 03/26/2010 at 2:30 pm #

    I loved that Modcloth has been putting some Zakka items on the site. It made me laugh for joy when I saw them.

    I’m a big fan, and I try to make sure my life isn’t dull and boring, and Zakka plays a large role in that. Trying to make things more fun or more interesting. Like instead of a paper bag lunch, putting my lunch in a cute bento box. Or having adorable folders to store my work in. It just makes it that more enjoyable.

    Wonderful contest, and I hope to see more Zakka themed items in the shop!

  24. Jo 03/26/2010 at 2:37 pm #

    First of all, I love this post!! it was SO interesting to learn about this wonderful world of design!!

    The way I use zakka in my life is through my wardrobe. I like to dress fairly plain with neutral colors and layered cardigans. However, I could NEVER live with out my earrings. I started making my own when I was 15 and have been making jewelery ever since. My favorite pair is made with Chinese tea-cake boxes that I painted with glitter nail polish and attached a small paper crane to the bottom. 🙂

  25. megs 03/26/2010 at 2:45 pm #

    One of my favorite ways to create zakka is to play “I made this for you” with the people I love.

    Hide a small object in the palm of your hand. Then say to your friend, “I made this for you” and transfer the concealed item to their palm. Give them a good or “bad” (but never mean) surprise. It can really be something you made, like a leaf with a drawing on it or a friendship bracelet OR it can be something stupid that you found like a crumbled piece of paper or a weird fuzzball. No matter what you give, they will ALWAYS smile!

    Don’t play it too often and keep them guessing. Sometimes you can give them something very special.

    (P.S. I adore Shinzi Katoh. I still wish I had bought the little sheep bag I saw on MC last year.)

  26. Rachel 03/26/2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Ahhh so cute.

    Considering I’m an art major, I’m pretty much zakka-ing everyday. As I’ve gotten older I’ve begun to see things through a more artistic perspective -the shapes of every day objects, the saturation of colors. Today I took some plastic toy animals and spray painted them gold just because I can. That’s the great thing about art, you don’t always need a reason for anything.

  27. Taylor F. 03/26/2010 at 3:11 pm #

    The zakka in my life is really the mess made on my desks. It is an artistic mess. If I hadn’t moved rooms in the last year, my room would be very cluttered and more messy than it is now. 🙂 It is a good kind of mess tho (not to my dad) x). This mess is filled with piles of drawing books, bags of knitting and crocheting items, little piles of movie tickets, a few pieces of candy, and some sewing stuff. I like that mess.

  28. Samantha 03/26/2010 at 5:13 pm #

    I absolutely adore his works! I have a solar bear tote bag and pencil case that always just brighten up my day when I see them. For me, zakka is the hundreds upon hundreds of stuffed animals I’ve made. I love to make little crochet creatures and give them to young family members or the local elementary school. I’ve also painted my own plates and mugs with different animals, especially pigs or sheep to brighten up every meal. c:

  29. Mint 03/26/2010 at 5:17 pm #

    I love all things Shinzi Katoh!! I have many of his books and household items! He has really inspired me to do alot of diy-ing and even create things from my own ideas. I create zakka in my own life and other’s lives by making things to make my room cheerier…or send handmade gifts to friends to cheer them up. 😀

  30. Nicole 03/26/2010 at 5:37 pm #

    Shinzi Katoh’s art is so cute, but not “precious”. I love it!

  31. Marie 03/26/2010 at 5:39 pm #

    It is so great to read this! I first encountered Shinzi Katoh at one of his stores (in Yufuin, Japan) and immediately fell in love. I bought his canvas bags, cups and bowls, trays etc. and then found his online site once coming back to the US. It is so refreshing to have artists working towards making mundane, everyday items into art pieces that can liven up our living space!

  32. Amanda M 03/26/2010 at 5:42 pm #

    Zakka’s fusion of cultures (Bento Boxes with French themes) is an excellent example of embracing the globalization of our own individual and distinct cultures.

    This fascinating and productive trend is also seen in the interdisciplinary direction the sciences are taking. Amazing discoveries are made when we link the genius in different fields.

    There is so much to be learned by widening our lens/broadening our scope

  33. Jane Carr 03/26/2010 at 5:46 pm #

    I throw a bright color in a room, either pillow, afghan, etc. and have lots of colorful and happy pictures my daughters have drawn for me over the years. I have pictures peeking out from strange places that make bring happiness when found and flowers everywhere as often as possible. Shinzi Katoh’s style is exactly the same. I simply love it.

  34. lauren 03/26/2010 at 5:52 pm #

    For me, zakka is dressing however I feel like dressing! I think that one of the challenges of being a college student on a campus that is fairly homogeneous is being playful with the things that you have in order to stand out. Whereas I think most of my peers view the act of dressing oneself as a mundane act (as exemplified in the endless sea of tshirts and sweats), I enjoy taking something that can be conceived as mundane (what fun is it to dress up for two hours of class?) and make it fun and interesting for myself and hopefully for others.

  35. Meredith 03/26/2010 at 5:53 pm #

    My idea of zakka is keeping up with the current fashion trends, and reading about cool trends in cooking, shopping, social media and other interesting topics! I’d love to add some Shinzi Katoh product to my life! 🙂

  36. Heather Johnson 03/26/2010 at 5:54 pm #

    I really love the art it is done so nicely and it does not hurt that it is very cute 🙂

  37. Lillie 03/26/2010 at 5:55 pm #

    I tend to gravitate toward animal shaped kitchen appliances: nesting goose measuring cups, an owl shaped mug, giraffe-shaped measuring spoons. I think I gained my love for zakka from my mom, who probably isn’t even aware of the concept. But she loves well-designed, whimsical things, and her house is full of them.

  38. Alyssa thompson 03/26/2010 at 5:56 pm #

    I main zakka are re-usble cups! I have one with a clear outside that I can change the pictures of message inside for all to see. I take it everywhere, including Starbucks and Jamba juice. It not only shows off my eco-consciousness, but my artistic stylings as well!

  39. Aisa 03/26/2010 at 5:56 pm #

    I have been the biggest fan of Shinzi Katoh’s textile products for a long time. I wish they had more of it available in canada!

  40. Tara 03/26/2010 at 6:08 pm #

    I have been a huge fan of Shinzi Katoh for a while now. I am in school to become a surface designer and based an entire project on his style of pattern making ( ). I have such a love for pattern and Japan, that in 2 short weeks I will be studying design abroad in Osaka.

    I incorporate ざっか  into my life in many ways. From my cell phone adorning many charms to more simple objects such as patterned notebooks and decorative pens. I also have a growing collection of cute patterned Tupperware.
    These are just a few examples of the many over the top decorative items I surround myself with. Patterns and decoration is my life and I enjoy having a large collection of inspirations.

  41. Tizzy 03/26/2010 at 6:09 pm #

    In my life, “zakka” is never neglecting to have a common item in my life that makes me happy to see it, every time I pick it up. This can be my toothbrush cup, a pocket mirror, whatever…infusing the reassurance of uniqueness and beauty into the practical items I use every day, and remind me of who I wish to be. It distracts me and keeps me focused, all at once.

  42. Sam 03/26/2010 at 6:13 pm #

    I’m a graphic designer so I’m constantly looking for house basics in more interesting patterns and colours. I love picking up re-usable bags in a great print or adding a printed scarf to my wardrobe instead of basic colours.

  43. Carin Lightner 03/26/2010 at 6:16 pm #

    This reminds me of Japan, zakka is one of the things I miss most about living there! For me zakka is a lot of things, often it’s just a doodle on the corner of a notebook, that no matter how hard a day I am having , makes me smile. Sometimes it’s the pair of polka-dotted socks I wear hidden beneath my slacks when I have to dress in a suit. No mater what, knowing that I’m wearing polka-doted socks makes me smile:)

  44. Rebecca 03/26/2010 at 6:18 pm #

    I create zakka by taking old items and covering them in paint or fabric and decorating them to make something new, fresh, and fun!

  45. ms.core 03/26/2010 at 6:21 pm #

    zakka / 雑貨

    handcrafted subtext
    designer kitchenette
    processed houseguest
    east meets west

    many things

  46. christine 03/26/2010 at 6:21 pm #

    I absolutely love this man! I’ve seen his work very frequently, I love his calendars 🙂
    As for zakka, I love to draw especially for other people, so I like to make custom folders with my drawings on them to give away. I also decorate my pencil holder with twigs to seem more naturey and I put orange triangles around my ceiling light to make it look like a sun!

  47. Lydia the Great Nelsen 03/26/2010 at 6:39 pm #

    I loves it!

  48. Lina C. 03/26/2010 at 6:44 pm #

    I love this Zakka concept of jazzing up everyday items in simple (or outrageous) ways. It’s refreshing!

    It’s my first year in college and, living in a tiny dorm room with my two other roommates, I’ve pretty much made it my job to create a fun, personalized space for the three of us. Among the decorative touches that each of us has added (posters, photos, Christmas lights, etc), there are definitely a few Zakka moments.

    From the little things like my bright turquoise cotton swabs and heart-stickered, hot pink computer mouse to the more whimsical things like our Totoro refrigerator, Zakka’s definitely made it into my daily life.

    Here’s a pic of our fridge. It’s always the 1st thing people spot in our room.

    While playing around with the magnets, I kept picturing Hayao Miyazaki’s character from My Neighbor Totoro, a movie I’ve loved for as long as I can remember. With that, I decided to go for it with the whiskers and giant smile. I’ve yet to add the stomach detail. 😀

    Thanks ModCloth for this feature on Shinzi Katoh!

  49. Priscilla 03/26/2010 at 6:47 pm #

    In our economic climate, it is really crucial to see joy in the very little things in life. One important way I do this is I keep a piece of paper in the front of my binder with encouraging words such as, “You don’t have to be better than everyone else… just better than yesterday’s Priscilla.” Small notes such as this really keep things in perspective when I’m studying and really help me appreciate the good things about myself, however small they may be. 🙂

  50. Sherry 03/26/2010 at 6:55 pm #

    I like to incorporate zakka in my table decor & in the bathrooms. It’s so cheery to walk by & see it.

  51. Amanda 03/26/2010 at 6:57 pm #

    Oh my goodness, these designs are beyond adorable! These are exactly what my zakka needs 🙂

    I usually find zakka through antique shops and thrift stores. I find items that speak to me, that make me feel like I can connect with the world. I collect lots of odds and ends, but I mostly collect teacups.

    Tea is such a huge part of my life, and I like to express that with a large selection of eccentric and classy teacups.

    I’ve been practicing zakka since I was 10. My mom always took me along on her nifty and thrifty outings, and I developed a taste for quirky and clever items. I still have them, and love them all!

  52. Jenny. K 03/26/2010 at 6:59 pm #

    Oh I absolutely love Shinzi Katoh’s designs! He really has an eye for girls like me 🙂
    I create Zakka by taking mixed boring traditional CD’s and decorating them into fun, personalized piece’s. Or by taking plain notecards and turning them into fun “thank you” or “happy holidays” cards with robots or monsters on them, and giving them to my loved ones!

  53. Lindsey R 03/26/2010 at 7:07 pm #

    Zakka seems to me to be about appreciating the little things. (Zombieland rule as well!) And for myself, the best little things are the unexpected ones. I love wearing unique pieces with an otherwise basic outfit (my favourites being a pair of bright orange or my new “Alley Oop Rain Boots!” and a tote bag that looks like an old school cassette player.) I tend to draw esigns all over my school folders and once got in trouble for writing silly quotes on my walls with Sharpie markers. I try to live my life in an artistic way; creativity and silliness are 2 brilliant ways to live. (^_^)

  54. peta 03/26/2010 at 7:07 pm #

    His work is adorable. love everythng o’ve seen. might just head over and buy myself a treat!

    I am living in a very temporary rental situation at the moment and don’t even have a real bed, so I try to include some zakka by incorporating everyday finds into the space. A cute sticker is pretty much the only decoration on my walls, but it makes me smile when I see it and it is so much better than nothing at all!

  55. Yue 03/26/2010 at 7:15 pm #

    I love this designer and already own one of his totes and want more of his designs! I think Zakka is everywhere but you have to have the heart to see it, and Katoh obviously has the most creative eye in capturing those moments and translating them into little cute characters that capture our hearts. Thank you so much!

  56. Micing 03/26/2010 at 7:21 pm #

    Smile you have zakka
    Many things that make you laffa
    If spice of life you lakka
    Search out some zakka!

    I like to make up silly poems on important looking post-it notes.

  57. L 03/26/2010 at 7:42 pm #

    This is my first time of hearing about zakka and seeing items designed like this. The items are definitely SO cute and practical!! The drawings seem so whimsical and carefree. Definitely nothing compared to my doodles!! XD

  58. Amanda 03/26/2010 at 8:03 pm #

    I need a little zakka in my life.

  59. veronica 03/26/2010 at 8:08 pm #

    ohhh! its soo cute. i now officially love his work.

  60. amanda l. 03/26/2010 at 9:03 pm #

    I have none of his pieces unfortunately, but that doesn’t stop me from loving them!

  61. Cheryl 03/26/2010 at 9:05 pm #

    This is a wonderful designer. I’m sure I’ll get some of his items. I hope I win something!

    My zakka comes from my drawing and creating little children’s book characters.

  62. Daisy 03/26/2010 at 9:12 pm #

    My zakka is inspired by my family. I have one thing from my grandmother’s house – a china piggybank, with the piggy all made up in bright makeup. When she passed away when I was about 11, I got to choose one thing from her house to keep, and 10 years later it still reminds me of her. I also have artwork from both my uncle and my great aunt. My great aunt is 95 years old, and continues to paint, even though she is blind and cannot enjoy the visual aspect of it herself anymore. Her will to live a fulfilling life provides the zakka in mine.

  63. Carolyn 03/26/2010 at 9:14 pm #

    meow. love the bunnies!

  64. Kaitlyn 03/26/2010 at 9:20 pm #

    I am a quirky girl and I enjoy quirky knick knacks like zakkas!

  65. Alison B. 03/26/2010 at 9:30 pm #

    My grandmother makes things like this! So cute, and she has given me about two of hers. I’d like to have more, of course!

  66. Alice Ngo 03/26/2010 at 9:33 pm #

    Absolutely in love with his designs! Some of his style reminds me of the Fifi rabbits but in a cuter kind of way lol. His designs provides a youthful approach to ladies with a taste of uniqueness

  67. Sarah 03/26/2010 at 10:44 pm #

    These are super cute! I love it!

  68. Candice 03/26/2010 at 11:14 pm #

    Simplistic yet memorable. Sophisticated yet cute. My life is a collaboration of old styles and new, a synthesis of the edgy and the adorable. It might seem paradoxical to some, bold, brave, and awesomely child-like, yet the pieces of this eccentric lifestyle completes the portrait of my self.
    ….And I am also a doodler. HARDCORE.

  69. Molly 03/26/2010 at 11:17 pm #

    If zakka is seeing beauty in the mundane, I’m all over it! For example, I tend to doodle really normal yet unusual things when I’m bored. Such as ovens and fruit.

  70. Stefani 03/27/2010 at 12:09 am #

    If zakka means ‘many things’ then that defines me. I am a mix of sooo many different things that it’s hard to keep track of all the things that I want to do or accomplish. If he creates things for every part of life–that’s perfect. It seems to me that zakka also represents that we need to start bringing some fun, culture, and color to our lives. In this modern age we have started to go to clean lines and bland colors in our households–this collection brings the color back and adds fun to any room or anything that it entails. I LOVE IT!

  71. Rebecca 03/27/2010 at 12:22 am #

    I use zakka art in my life every time I see something boring – oh, say a random piece of paper for example – and decide to turn it into something special. Thus I have so many random pages of doodles that I can’t use use them all for binder covers!

  72. Shayna M. 03/27/2010 at 12:24 am #

    My zakka is how I have made my small dorm space my very own by incorporating simple, lively things into its decoration. I bring bright color into my space by layering orange, green and multicolored blankets and quilts on my bed. My favorite stuffed animals, a snuggly manatee and koala keep the space cozy when I am must leave them to attend class!

  73. Jen 03/27/2010 at 2:29 am #

    Shinzi Katoh’s works are super cute, and I’d love to have more of his items in my everyday life, especially when I start living on my own.

    For myself, I tend to create “zakka” through lighting. I have different lamps that are shaped like dinosaurs (so far, I’ve got a T.Rex, a pterodactyl, and a triceratops!), nightlights that change colors, and some paper tea lights that are super festive and fun.I also collect random cat items, like a cat stapler, a cat plastic figurine, and a cat coin bank! 🙂

  74. Jackie 03/27/2010 at 2:49 am #

    I love his designs! They are so modern and retro at the same time; all done with his imaginative creations!

    I try and do my own version of zakka around the house by adding things like decorative bowls, fun wall paintings and crafts that I make myself. It doesn’t always turn out the way I like it, but it my touch and my taste so it doesn’t really matter!

  75. Tiffany T. 03/27/2010 at 3:44 am #

    Shinzi Katoh’s works are so kawaii!!!

  76. Mutz 03/27/2010 at 5:31 am #

    My way of incorporating zakka in my style is through cute hand-made little things, like a cat-shaped purse, or amirigumi. And then you can always “cute things up” with sharpie, glitter and stickers.

  77. Laura 03/27/2010 at 5:44 am #

    Hrm, this is a good question. I create zakka in my bathroom at the moment. It was the one room in my apartment that just looked -sad- compared to the collection-layden shelves of all other rooms. I’m using pottery that my Mom and I made on a wheel ages ago as display containers for things like soap and toothpaste. I found cute animal head toothbrush holders to add some whimsey. Now I just need a little more color, and this apartment bathroom with have some flavor! ^_^

  78. Leigh 03/27/2010 at 9:26 am #

    I love his designs! they are very versatile!

  79. Sonia 03/27/2010 at 9:57 am #

    Shinzo katoh’s designs are so cute! As I was growing up, I had an adorable, fancy pencil case with his design on it. I loved showing it off at school. It was my very special possession. That’s how I incorporated his design into my life.

  80. Maria Rosaria 03/27/2010 at 9:59 am #

    Great artist feature,thanks 🙂

    hmm…how 2 answer that question? I’m just a creative outsider to everyone else around me.If I have to go to a party and the invite says white dress only I wear pink,when we eat spaghetti on Sunday,I’m the only one who uses chopsticks instead of a fork,I always stamp my initial on everything I do and instead of snack bags for my lunch I use a strawberry shaped Bento box,everyone buys dept. store perfume I make my own perfume in my kitchen, all my utensils are craft works of art like my giant salad serving set made of hand carved African wood to look like giraffe’s so, I do stuff like that if thats considered “zakka”

  81. Denise 03/27/2010 at 10:11 am #

    I love his designs! As a writer, I have always worked with graphic designers and love great design. I wish I could draw like that! Great work!

  82. Farrah S. 03/27/2010 at 10:15 am #

    I create zakka in several ways with a more DIY approach- if your house is your home, why not decorate it with elements of yourself? I make origami x-wing fighters ( instead of cranes to hang on a mobile over my bed, and incorporate the recycling aspect with items such as my starburst belt ( which was made ONLY with starburst.

    When I do have to buy something instead of create it, I go for goofy things, like items from the local dollar store with completely unrelated illustrations printed on them (eg, apple-shaped fly swatters).

    Shinzi Katoh’s works are phenomenal, and I have to say that I especially love his bento boxes. I love playing with my food and creating all sorts of characters within my lunchbox, and these are so much cuter than carrying your creation in a plain old rubbermaid tupperware box.

  83. Lauren 03/27/2010 at 10:45 am #

    I love the use of colors that Shinzi uses, and the thought behind all the designs! Very unqiue!

  84. DARBY 03/27/2010 at 11:36 am #

    heart zakka!! shinzi katoh is a genious and has a great blend of colors that make the pieces flow well together!

  85. Nancy Chang 03/27/2010 at 12:08 pm #

    Love it, sooo cute!!!

  86. q 03/27/2010 at 12:55 pm #

    I’m the person wearing yellow when everyone else is wearing grey.

  87. Casey Rose 03/27/2010 at 2:45 pm #

    I’ve always been the odd one out. When everybody else raided the shelves at Topshop, I was still sewing buttons and inking designs onto old t-shirts, struggling to fit as many keyrings onto my bags as possible. When everybody else drooled over expensive strappy life-risking heels, I was overjoyed to find tiny ballet flats with paw prints on the soles and little woollen hats complete with animal ears still came in my size. To me, zakka is evidence enough that like me, there are others too that cling on to the last remaining images of childhood with a sense of joy and pride.
    I go out of my way at times to preserve the smallest of things, a clothing tag, a sweet wrapper, something cut from the Christmas wrapping paper or a birthday card which I then stick to the sprawling mass of images I have collected over the years, the cute and the quirky, the bold and the delicate that fill a wall and reflect the zakka in my life.

  88. Autumn Sellers 03/27/2010 at 2:49 pm #

    I love his designs they are sooo cute!

  89. Amy 03/27/2010 at 3:11 pm #

    With his great designs, I can be set aside from others. I am able to wear his design with pride and show pride.

  90. Mary Claire Leonard 03/27/2010 at 3:44 pm #

    I LOVE shinzi’s work! The idea behind “zappa” is so clever too…I always keep my eyes open for practical items with cute touches. Not only do these things bring me smiles but other people like to see them too. Life’s too short for solid colors 24/7. Keep the cuteness coming modcloth!:)

  91. Mary Claire Leonard 03/27/2010 at 3:46 pm #

    Geez…I just typed “zappa” instead of “zakka”. Sorry bout that, haha:)

  92. A.M. 03/27/2010 at 4:34 pm #

    Love Katoh’s designs, thanks for sharing ModCloth! If zakka is defined here as jazzed-up ordinary household items, then I guess I’ve got a lot and didn’t even know it–I like quirky salt & pepper shakers, towels with cartoon fruit, silly toothbrush holders, and i can’t resist pocket mirrors that have designs on the back.

  93. Malisa 03/27/2010 at 5:27 pm #

    try moving into a blah room. the zakka part of my life reflects my personality in my room, with various picture frames covering the white walls. patterned bed spreads. vases and candles and more pictures in all different shapes and sizes!! it’s like adding splashes of wow to a completely blank canvas. 😉

  94. Braden 03/27/2010 at 5:39 pm #

    As an ode to our spiral staircase in our house, we decorated with various photographs of funky stairs

  95. Nic 03/27/2010 at 5:45 pm #

    I am Shinzi Katoh’s biggest fan! & I love making zakka part of my daily life. Creating things from scratch or up-cycling helps make the things in my home spicy & fun.

  96. Helena 03/27/2010 at 7:59 pm #

    Zakka has ruled my life since infancy and nothing has changed now that i’m an “adult”. It’s reflected from toasters, china sets, curtains, pillows in my house to even inspiring my career as an freelance illustrator. Without Zakka, i think i would be living in a hole somewhere with the bugs.
    I have one Shinzi Katoh item I bought from San Fransisco and it’s my beloved little black and white bunny bag!

  97. Gabry 03/27/2010 at 10:15 pm #

    I really like Zakka. I honestly don’t have that much of it, but in the future it will grow. I have followed Shinzi Katoh for a while and have two items that I got as a gift. Its a pen and the my own work book of the from him. I really like it and hope to get more stuff from him.

  98. Sorcha 03/27/2010 at 10:24 pm #

    What an honor to be hosting Shinzi Katoh’s designs! They are so lovely and cute. I just love that style, I absolutely love it! Go zakka!

  99. Sorcha 03/27/2010 at 10:27 pm #

    I feel I create zakka without even realizing it! Ever since I was young, I would add to boring things and I would make them….cute! Still do, be it at school doodling away on notebooks or more seriously at home embroidering small details onto curtains. Shinzi Katoh is one of my favorites!

  100. Kendall 03/27/2010 at 11:04 pm #

    My life is filled with zakka, from my Poketo wallet to the ceramic pots I hand-painted for my herb garden. However, the most “zakka” part of my style, is my collection of Japanese miniature food erasers. I absolutely love the tiny ice cream cones and milk cartons I have displayed on my bookcase, and I can’t help but smile every morning when I get out of bed and see them.
    Shinzi Katoh makes me feel the same!

  101. Zoe 03/28/2010 at 12:04 am #

    Zakka, for me, is anything that makes me feel inspired. I have a storehouse of whimsical objects and artworks that I draw on for creative inspiration. But maybe storehouse is not the right word, because it implies stagnancy…maybe a better word is workshop, because I am constantly working on these items, adding to them, rearranging them in physical space and in my own brain. My interpretations of them also change. I bookmark internet links to wonderful artwork, and I carry around adorable Japanese pens, imaginative bookmarks – objects that are both functional and inspiring, objects that serve a double purpose. My zakka are as important to me as vital nutrients. They enrich my life so that I may enrich the world.

  102. Kelley 03/28/2010 at 3:03 am #

    I create zakka in the art that I hang on my walls. Instead of buying mass-produced prints at Target, I try to hang up personal photographs, handmade art from Etsy, prints bought from Deviantart or even art that I made myself. The art becomes more than just wall decor that way; each piece has a story and a personal connection behind it.

  103. Clarice 03/28/2010 at 7:40 am #

    I create zakka with my art. Everyday I create little simple characters in my pocket sketchbook that reflect the day I’ve had. They all have names and stories that fit snuggly with their whimsical nature. If you ask, most of them will share all of their stories in exchange for marshmallows and gummis, of course. I often screen print these characters onto t-shirts, or make animations with them. Every little doodle makes me smile and look forward to the next. It’s like I have my own little kingdom of crazy creatures and I love it!

  104. care 03/28/2010 at 8:11 am #

    love this collection. Everyone needs a touch of wimsy in their life- it makes me smile 🙂

  105. Kelli 03/28/2010 at 9:07 am #

    I use the principle in my life my creating things with my knitting skills that have a lot more color and texture than the stuff you can find in stores.

  106. kirsche 03/28/2010 at 10:07 am #

    I love them! The information in this interview is so infomative. His designs do brighten up my day!

  107. Linda Perez 03/28/2010 at 10:51 am #

    I add Zakka in my daily life through time and interaction with my kids. We paint, we play, we pretend we just have fun. We need to make life fun or else the fun of life will dim. Yay for Zakka an for Katoh’s brilliance!

  108. Megan W 03/28/2010 at 12:16 pm #

    The bunnys make me feel happy, they have a simple face to them but the less mayde it more. they would make any girl/guy happy anytime

  109. Bethany 03/28/2010 at 6:32 pm #

    I can’t imagine my life without Zakka! I’d be a pretty depressing person if it weren’t for my Zakka themed things(mostly bags, lol). They just brighten up my day for school to put my books in them! <3

  110. Janice 03/28/2010 at 7:21 pm #

    I think my zakka is anything that makes me feel a sense of inspiration in my life. For outfits, art, and furniture anything that just inspires to be creative is part of “zakka” (:

  111. rebecca 03/28/2010 at 9:59 pm #

    i loveeeee his designs! people like him give me a kick in the butt to keep creating!

  112. Erin 03/28/2010 at 11:41 pm #

    As cheesy as it sounds, my boyfriend is my daily dose of ‘zakka.’ He inspires me, always helps me out, and never ceases to amaze me with his patience and supportiveness! We do silly things for one another, have our inside jokes, and always have a great time. I express my happiness in the way that I dress–mixing vintage jewelry with new clothing pieces, wearing some gloves that my great aunt once wore, or by making something old ‘new’ again!

  113. Bella 03/29/2010 at 12:07 am #

    zakka is my whole life. Every day, i am inspired by different people,places, and things i see. I do a lot of photography, often of random people on the streets, or a random everyday object. My outfits are made up of a few basic pieces, but are changed up enough to be quirky and fun. I do lots of artwork with random everyday objects, like buttons, glued or paper mached to them. I decorate my notebooks with drawings and stickers, change my purse almost every day. I change my hair color and style almost once a month.
    I cant imagine what my life would be like without zakka!

  114. Sarah 03/29/2010 at 12:33 am #

    Big fan of Katoh!

  115. Shelby 03/29/2010 at 1:11 am #

    I have a very quirky collection of bento boxes, picnic accoutrement and various mugs. I find it makes a work day so much easier when I can open an adorable bento box with a squirrel or cat on it :).
    The hall in our apartment is covered with origami butterflies – a playful way of taking some beautiful papers and shapes and decorating with them.

  116. Annette 03/29/2010 at 4:58 am #

    For me, zakka is created through my surroundings. If there is an old notebook lying around, I will jazz it up with bright drawings and abstract designs. I love colour, especially rainbow themes. At school, I create zakka through decorating my page with rainbow headings and designs. I love turning a white space into a bright space with colourful handmade items such as knitted rugs, painting, cushions and photos. Colour, brightness and a zest for life all inspire the zakka in my life! (P.S. It’s only 7:58pm in Australia!)

  117. Loopy 03/29/2010 at 9:04 am #

    I just love Shinzi Katoh! His whole way of life is an inspiration! And I try emulate “zakka” into every bit of my life… like little unexpected tiny sculptures hidden under a leaf in my garden or the random cupcake topper! It’s the little bits of zakka thrown into unexpected places that make me smile!

  118. Carly 03/29/2010 at 1:50 pm #

    My favourite way in which I incorporate zakka into my home is through my books. Being a grad student, my library spills into every room of my house. I have found that using stacks of books as bookends saves space and I really like the idea of books supporting one other, literally and intertextually!

  119. Rebecca 03/29/2010 at 5:45 pm #

    Love these! I’d love to own one of those cute little bags!

  120. Catherine 03/29/2010 at 6:32 pm #

    i am sooo obsessed with japanese culture, and that includes zakka stuff. it really contributes to conservation efforts, more than one would think; i have a funky little bento box that eliminates my use of disposable bags, and I have a recycled plastic bag that i take grocery shopping with me. it’s adorable, but it also makes a statement. i refuse to make a negative impact on the world – but i’m a girl. it’s important to look cute while you’re out and about, and zakka really helps me do that. 🙂

  121. Marisa 03/29/2010 at 10:25 pm #

    Well, I can’t exactly create my own zakka (I love learning new words!Especially ones that are fun to say.I’m going to try use this often.)because I’m not the best artist but, a lot of my friends are so instead whenever they draw anything I’m quick to save it.What do i do with it you might ask.Well i somehow get it to fit onto any furniture in my bedroom!On my dresser is a college of what they’ve drawn,i put a clear glass over it so it’s like it was incorporated in the design.Anything cute they or anyone draws always makes me smile and have this warm feeling inside so i love doing things like i did to my dresser in my bedroom, it’s just…somehow makes things always better.

  122. N 03/30/2010 at 2:49 am #

    Darn, I missed the deadline 🙁 Every part of my life includes zakka. It’s the only way for me to live and to go on cheerfully with things. Everywhere I look, and everything I own incorporates zakka – even if what I have from the outside looks ultra conservative..

  123. ModCloth 03/30/2010 at 3:10 pm #

    Thank you all for sharing your lovely stories about the zakka in your life! The 10 winners will receive an e-mail notification soon, along with more details about their prize!

  124. Jess 03/31/2010 at 10:36 pm #

    Total randomosity, but I think ModCloth should definitely get more two-tiered Shinzi Katoh bento boxes! There so cute and I’ve been wanting to get one for awhile, but every time you get them in they sell out before I notice they were ever in stock. ><

  125. Lily Klein 04/09/2010 at 10:57 am #

    I love Shinzi katoh ! His work is a fun and different way to jazz up your apartemant ! zakka is a great gift and I try to have atleast one thing in every room !

  126. Brenda W. 11/09/2011 at 4:27 pm #

    My grandmother’s name was FLOSSY! And, I had an (by marriage) named Flossy. Where and how did a Japanese person come up with, much less choose that name????? It IS adorable, is it not??? My grandmother raised me as well, so it is truly especially special. I just found this designer and I would love anything by him. I am purchasing one of these for myself and one for my younger sister for Christmas…she will just DIE when she opens the thing. I love, love, love it. Can’t wait.

  127. Alexis Jamie Orchard 09/01/2012 at 8:52 pm #

    I love shinzi katoh too, very witty beginning btw
    his design has strange power that makes my heart beat and happy
    I want to write him a thankful letter
    Im very glad that his works are popular throughout the world
    it is very intriguing that he has illustrated for books, why nobody has told me!

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